Anyone caught shoplifting in Georgia not only faces criminal charges which may include spending time in prison and paying fines, but they may also be civilly liable to the store owners where the merchandise was stolen.

If you have been charged with shoplifting in Georgia, contact an experienced Cobb County shoplifting lawyer to review the charges against you and determine what legal defenses may apply to your situation so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for you. A seasoned attorney can fight for your freedoms.

Shoplifting is More than Just Stealing

According to GA Code Sec. 16-8-14, shoplifting in Georgia is engaging in certain actions with the intent of taking merchandise without paying for it or depriving the owner of possession of the merchandise or its value. While that can include stealing merchandise outright, it can also include altering price tags, switching price tags or labels, transferring merchandise from one container to another, or wrongfully causing the amount paid to be less than the merchant’s price.

In addition, concealing merchandise even without leaving the store can be considered shoplifting. Georgia shoplifting crimes can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the merchandise stolen and the overall facts and circumstances surrounding the situation. For more information, refer to a Cobb County shoplifting lawyer.

Penalties for Shoplifting

Georgia law recognizes six (6) separate penalties for shoplifting:

  1. Merchandise valued at $500 or less. Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $500 or less is generally considered a misdemeanor and can result in spending up to one year in prison and paying fines of up to $1,000
  2. Merchandise valued at $500 or less – with one prior conviction. Shoplifting property with a total combined value of less than $500, when the individual has previously been convicted of one shoplifting offense (regardless of whether the first offense was classified as a misdemeanor or felony) is generally considered a misdemeanor and can result in spending up to one year in prison and paying a minimum and mandatory fine of $250, but also additional fines of up to $1,000
  3. Merchandise valued at $500 or less – with two prior convictions. Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $500 or less, when the individual has previously been convicted of two shoplifting offenses (regardless of whether those two offenses were classified as misdemeanors or felonies) is generally considered a misdemeanor and can result in spending a minimum and mandatory 30 days in prison – and up to one year in prison altogether, and paying a fine of up to $1,000
  4. Merchandise valued at $500 or less – with three prior convictions. Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $500 or less, when the individual has previously been convicted of three or more shoplifting offenses (regardless of whether those three offenses were classified as misdemeanors or felonies) is generally considered a felony and can result in spending between one and ten years in prison (one year will be mandatory) and paying significant fines imposed at the court’s discretion
  5. Merchandise valued at $500 or more. Shoplifting property with a total combined value of more than $500 is generally considered a felony and can result in spending between one and ten years in prison and paying significant fines imposed at the court’s discretion

It is important to keep in mind that shop owners can also sue shoplifters in civil court. They may be entitled to compensatory or liquidated damages which can be equal to – or more than – the actual value of the property. Make no mistake, shoplifting can have serious and costly consequences. However, many first time shoplifters may be able to participate in pretrial intervention and diversion programs which allow them to avoid criminal prosecution such as making restitution, performing community service, and anything else the court deems viable.

Contact a Cobb County Shoplifting Attorney Today

If you have been charged with shoplifting in Georgia, contact a Cobb County shoplifting lawyer to find out how having counsel can affect your situation. A lawyer can review the charges against you and determine what legal defenses may apply to your situation so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for you.